What Do the Police Do?

Warhol P.

A downtown Havana street.

HAVANA TIMES — I was cutting through the main square in the Havana suburb of Marianao, a place known because they sell food there, and I stopped at one of the state-run businesses.

They were selling soda crackers in large plastic bags for 50 pesos (about $2 USD). To me this seemed kind of expensive, especially seeing as how almost all of the crackers were crushed, but since crackers are my favorite snack, I still decided to get in line.

Shortly after things started to go crazy. At least two dozen shouting women took over the scene some saying they had already marked a place in line. there started shouting when it seemed that someone was trying to cut in line. Two police officers then showed up and positioned themselves next to the establishment.

Shortly afterwards, the clerks began pulling out the packages of crackers from behind the counter. One woman left with ten bags, and another with twenty. Some people protested but it was all in vain; the supposed authority figures simple observed the disorder and laughed when they saw everyone jostling each other around, desperate to get their hands on the products.

Another woman, who I’ve seen reselling products there in the square, was walking away loaded with bags.  Among the shouting and shoving, I looked at the police, who knew all too well what was going to soon happen to those crackers.

I spent about 45 minutes in line, enduring the sun and of course trying to reach the counter, but I obviously didn’t. I managed to get close, but not close enough, because during my attempt all of the crackers were sold out.

It was all due to the process not being organized properly. So who’s to blame?

I guess that all of us are guilty to some degree.

San Rafael St. in Havana.

Firstly, there were those people who were selling the product. If they had limited the sales to one bag per person, many more people would have been served.

In second place there were us buyers, who didn’t realize how savagely we were acting, and that for a handful of crackers we were capable of offending and attacking each other (I don’t want to imagine the barbarism that would have been displayed had the product been beef).

Thirdly, there were the police, who acted only as decorative objects given that they were supposed to have been on duty. Actually, right now I don’t know what the real purpose of the revolutionary police is, given their attitudes, I can’t trust them.

The whole thing was even more difficult to accept when after the sales of the crackers you could find people in every corner of the square reselling those same crackers (my favorite snack) at 100 pesos a package.

For me, 100 pesos was way too much, so I chose to go home and write this article. At least this would help me to vent. This way I’m less likely to end up with an ulcer or a cerebral ischemia.

I’m sure that the resellers in the square will continue pulling their same old tricks, and that the police will continue to show up there, killing time, helping those people hustle without much effort. In fact, many of the products sold by state-run businesses end up being hoarded and re-sold. This is how those people make their livings, at the expense of working people.

I think we should do something about the issue of the Marianao square, and also analyze what’s happening with those who are supposed to ensure that such situations don’t occur?



5 thoughts on “What Do the Police Do?

  • Hilarious little event! Thanks for sharing. I like the part where the crackers were threatened of being crushed- then nobody would be happy because they didn’t learn to share. Bad socialists! In my country, the cops would be fairly powerless to enforce morality as well, mostly due to libel chill & our beaurocrats are pretty well inert at the managerial level due to this same problem. I wish those store clerks could feel a little more empowered instead of being nastly little drama-jerks! Our local university alone graduates 400 lawyers a year, so I must watch out. Now I notice the cops are laying a charge if there is the slightest sign that it might stick, rather than using their discernment, or determining if the crown would be likely to win the case. Many times this results in costing the citizen oodles of money just to prove his innocence (pleading guilty is WAY cheaper). The parasitic establishment wins either way. I think our cop problem is worse in comparing this case! Unless you are shoplifting- the cops would be n-o-w-h-e-r-e until there is an assault. Socialists demand more from their administration, I guess -probably a good thing!

  • Just raise prices of crackers in stores to 100 pesos – there will be no lines and more intensive to produce more crackers. Basic law of supply and demand

  • Warhol P., what is your suggestion?

    After dedicating 45 minutes to the challenge, seems you might want to not only write it up (thanks for that), but might have some ideas on what might work better.

    While producing and selling more crackers would certainly be good, in the meantime, this sort of commodity crap occures in all societies, whenever they are run poorly or not for the average citizen. In the US, we have scalping of tickets and mad scrambles for new products, so being super-capitalist isn’t a solution. In Cuba yo have had rationing which at times seems to have guaranteed some fairness when supplies were short, such as milk for children.

    But who are the cracker sellers? Who decides if to sell as many as a person can pay for or just one or two to a customer. Seems to me some social pressure and accountability might be brought to bare. But then you and others there would have to know how to make that work – without being attacked by the scammers. Seems too that the police need some guadance on what is and isn’t “revolutionary.”

    Hope you have some suggestions.

  • This is another solution: produce more crackers. Oh wait, that only works in capitalism. Shortages due to mismanagement of resources is a socialist thing.

  • State monopoly ownership socialism (Marxism) simply does not work, especially in the long term.

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